Deconstruction: The Fate of America? - The Changing Landscape of America


America is at a crossroads. Its current path is unsustainable. The deficit for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009 was $1.42 trillion. The National Debt is $12.5 trillion with the debt ceiling just raised to $14.9 trillion. The National Debt has increased $4 billion per day since September 28, 2007. The Obama Administration projects trillion dollar deficits for years to come. It has bailed out GM and Chysler, the banks “too big to fail” , and state governments that cannot manage their budgets.  read more »

Transit Oriented Development: If Not San Francisco, Where?


“The Great Transit Oriented Development Swindle?” reads the headline in the Fog City Journal, one of the growing number of internet newspapers providing serious, professional web-based journalism as an alternative to declining print newspapers (and their often less than effective web sites).

The article does not directly answer the question in the headline, but certainly provides enough ammunition to what has become a commonly accepted mantra among planners and urban boosters. It reveals how transit oriented development (TOD) is often based upon fragile foundations that amount to an ideological swindle. It is important to recognize that the Fog City Journal is no right wing or libertarian organ. There is little market for that in the city of San Francisco.  read more »

Green Wash: The Church of Sustainability

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The term green-wash is used to describe something that has been promoted as 'green', but is not. Has the term 'sustainability' worn out its welcome as well?  read more »

Jerry Brown: Machiavelli Or Torquemada?


For more than one-third of a century Jerry Brown has proved one of the most interesting and original figures in American politics--and the 71-year-old former wunderkind might be back in office in 2010. If he indeed wins California's gubernatorial election, the results could range from somewhat positive to positively disastrous.  read more »

Newspapers: The Search for A Killer Saviour

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The publishers and staffs of many daily newspapers would love to think of themselves as hip bloggers, tweeting to an eager and mobile public. But the reality is that newspapering came of age with railroads and steel mills, and the balance sheets of many companies are heavy with long-term debt, inflated valuations, unfunded pension liabilities, and the usual write-downs of smokestack America.  read more »


The Forty-Fifth Parallel


When I was a kid growing up in Oregon, we'd occasionally drive north on I-5 to Portland. Just north of Salem we'd pass a sign that read (if memory serves) "The 45th Parallel: Halfway between the equator and the north pole."

I wish I'd stopped and taken a picture of myself straddling the parallel. It would go with a collection of similar straddles: across the equator in Uganda, across the Arctic Circle in Finland, and across the 42nd parallel.  read more »

The Failed State of California - The Changing Landscape of America


The Golden State is not so golden anymore. California is broke. With a $20 billion dollar deficit and tax revenues down 27% from last year, Governor Schwarzenegger looks to Washington D.C. for a bail-out to rescue the state from financial ruin. Like the executive passing a beggar on a street corner, Washington looks the other way. Unemployment is statistically 12.3%, but functionally, it runs closer to 20% of the work force. Nowhere is unemployment more tragic than in the Central Valley, the fruit and vegetable producer of the world.  read more »

Biotech Research No Silver Bullet for Florida


By Richard Reep

Until recently, Florida was the king of growth, agriculture, and tourism. Growth – at 900 immigrants a day from other states – characterized Florida’s landscape for over 30 years, and growing cities were in perennial battle with agriculture up until the watershed year of 2009. As a tourist destination, Florida claimed world-class status, which once served the state just fine. Now, gasping for breath and facing financial uncertainty, Florida’s leadership frantically seeks a new silver bullet to create jobs, focusing on biomedical research. This focus is timely and important, and can truly move the state in a new direction, and the state leadership’s resolve to diversify the economy should stay strong, even with a short-term lack of results.  read more »

New Traffic Scorecard Reinforces Density-Traffic Congestion Nexus


Inrix, an industry provider of traffic information, has just published its third annual Traffic Scorecard, which ranks the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based upon the intensity of their peak hour traffic congestion in 2009. The results provide further evidence of the association between higher urban population densities and more intense traffic congestion.

Los Angeles, Again: Not surprisingly, Los Angeles is again the most congested metropolitan area over 1,000,000 population.  read more »

Suburban Design: Square Peg In A Round Hole

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Remember that Fisher Price toy – “Baby's First Blocks”? It was supposed to teach us one of life's first lessons: Place a square shape in a square hole, and a round shape in a round hole. We're supposed to understand this idea before we learn to say our first words, or to walk. Yet in the development of our neighborhoods, we have put that square shape into every hole, no matter what the shape of that hole.  read more »